by Mark Hearn
Following months of protests, negotiations and pressure from the Municipal Employees Union the State Government has finally - and publicly - committed to conduct a Social Impact Study into the ramifications of compulsory market testing of RTA local government funding.
The public announcement that the Government would conduct the Study finally came at the Local Government and Shires Association Conference at Dubbo when MEU regional and metropolitan delegates quizzed the NSW Minister for Roads and Transport Carl Scully on the floor of the Conference.
The questions directly led Mr Scully to admit the Government would conduct the Social Impact Study. The MEU has been pushing for the Study since the Government announced it would subject the local government work to Competitive Tendering.
According to MEU General Secretary Brian Harris this campaign has been about people and jobs. "The pressure has come from the local communities themselves - it has been a large grassroots movement with several large rallies conducted across NSW which has forced the Government to back down and conduct the Study".
The MEU has argued consistently that Competitive Tendering would cause devastating effects on regional communities leading to job loss and the destruction of some smaller communities.
"This is a major victory - not just for the MEU and it's members but also for the communities whose livelihoods were at stake. Of course the battle is not over - we will be urging all local councils to support a moratorium on the market testing of RTA local government funding until the Impact Study is complete," Harris says.
"We will also be working with the government to ensure that the Study does fully assess the social impacts on jobs and local communities."
The Inquiry must examine:
- The impact on occupational health and safety,
- Community service obligations,
- The impact on rates of pay, conditions of employment, equal employment opportunity, together with the effects on job security and unemployment,
- The impact on rural and regional employment including the maintenance of local government as a strong and independent public employer,
- Economic and regional development,
- The effect on skill development and training.
Rail unions say bookings for CountryLink rail services are taking up to 90 minutes to process, with workers reporting abuse from members of the public because of the frustration and delays.
Both the Rail Tram and Bus Union and the Australian Services Union imposed bans on working on the reservations system, claiming the new system has been a disaster. Workers Online understands a senior manager has been sacked over the stuff-up.
"Bookings are taking up to one and a half hours to complete, multiple bookings are difficult to coordinate, CityRail stations have had booking terminals withdrawn resulting in passenger frustration, abuse against our membership and loss of customers that will in the future be used against our members to justify job cuts," they say.
The ASU's George Panigirs says a number of members have been placed on stress leave following the roll-out.
The unions are currently involved in a working party with CityRail to rectify the problems, but the RTBU's Nick Lewocki says he's not confident they can be solved, He says the Minister of Transport and State Rail may need to commit money to replace or upgrade the new system.
National Rail Spits Dummy
Meanwhile, the National Rail Corporation has threatened to shut down its freight service if workers maintain bans over long-running enterprise negotiations
The Rail Tram and Bus Union says the talks are deadlocked because of the Corporation's - jointly run by the federal, NSW and Victorian governments - refusal to discuss the unions' log of claims.
Tensions have increased in recent weeks after management took punitive action against the union and its members, including removal of payroll deduction for union fees and forcing all workers who call in sick to be picked up by a company taxi and taken to a company doctor for examination.
National Rail Corporation managing director Vince Graham this week threatened to shut down the interstate national rail network if the union did not lift all bans and restrictions, which are in the form of strict work to rule and a refusal to work on trains over 900 metres in length.
Proceedings in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission this week have failed to resolve the issue, although members have offered to temporary suspend their action while conciliation took place.
The Corporation rejected this proposal, applying for the issue to be conciliated with the bans still in place. This occurred and the parties are waiting for the Commission's recommendation.
The RTBU says its mystified by the Corporation's approach and has called on management to lift their threat to close the operations.
by Peter Moss and Peter Lewis
The 7am picket outside Governor Macquarie Tower was the first action in a three-day strike by 2,000 cleaners across NSW.
Earlier in the week, 16 mass meetings voted unanimously to strike after Public Works Minister Morris Iemma failed to step in and stop the cuts.
LHMU Secretary Annie Owens says the cleaners had no alternative with the Menzies Property Services company attempting to further cut working hours.
"Our members are being asked to clean a 30-student classroom in six minutes and a toilet in less than three minutes," Owens says.
"The cleaners take great pride in a job well done, but it is simply impossible to maintain standards if hours are cut further."
A Menzies supervisor who tried to prove that classrooms could be cleaned in six minutes had failed miserably. After 15 minutes the supervisor threw in the towel, without even turning on the vacuum cleaner.
"The Government's five-year cleaning contracts need to be reviewed," Owens says. "We are confident that a review will find that more funding has to be put into the cleaning of schools and other public buildings."
School cleaners have already suffered deep cuts since the Greiner Government sold off the Government Cleaning Service in 1994.
Teachers Vote for 24 Hour Strike
Meanwhile, public school teachers will lobby State ALP MP's directly after voting overwhelmingly to hold a 24 hour strike on November 18, will rallies to be held outside the offices of State MPs across the State.
Accusing the Carr Government of adopting the industrial relations practices of Peter Reith and Jeff Kennett, the teachers rejected the award that the Education Department has lodged in the Industrial Relations Commission.
"The award would reduce both the salaries and status of the teaching profession and jeopardise the educational futures of the young," the resolution passed at mass meetings across NSW says. "It is a deliberate insult to the teaching profession."
Noting that the teachers; Salaries and Status claim was first presented to the Minister 15 months ago, the resolution says the dispute can now only be resolved through a political process,
The meeting calls on the Carr Government to withdraw the award and enter into good faith negotiations with the teachers Federation.
If not, teachers will continue state wide action, with two-hour stoppages every two days between November 23 and the end of term.
The Federation will back its campaign with a paid publicity campaign, personal visits to Labor MPs and letters directly to parents explaining their situation.
The meeting also endorsed ongoing action by TAFE teachers.
The Textile Clothing and Footwear Union and the NSW Labor Council had raised concerns about the level of off-shore production, arguing local producers should be used wherever possible.
Under the SOCOG-trade union deal suppliers will also provide TCFUA officials with the names and addresses of overseas suppliers so they can ensure that minimum labour standards are complied with in accordance with the SOCOG Code of practise.
Tensions had flared between unions and SOCOG when the union was unable to secure details of the whereabouts of manufactures in Fiji, Malaysia and the Philipines.
TCFUA state secretary Barry Tubner says the agreement is an important first step in ensuring production of Games' uniforms is ethical and does not undercut opportunities for Australian workers.
"This is good news for the industry notwithstanding the fact that we would have preferred other items to be produced in Australia," Tubner says.
SOCOG says it has no objections to its contractors providing names and addresses of overseas manufacturing sites and will support relevant union officials getting access to visit all overseas companies contracted to produce workforce uniforms.
Tubner acknowledged the assistance of the Bonds company in resolving the dispute with SOCOG. He says the next step is to ensure the Code is being complied with.
Shaw says the charges will be laid under the Occupational Health and Safety Act - in what is a first for the mining industry.
Shaw says he won't comment on any details of the criminal charges so as not to prejudice the case in any way, except to say "the government is determined to see that justice is done".
The Gretley disaster occurred at about 5.30am on November 14, 1996, when four miners drowned after water swept into the mine from abandoned workings.
The deaths were the subject of an inquiry by Judge Staunton, QC, last year, which produced a 900 page report recommending criminal charges be laid.
The Australian Workers Union is campaigning to improve the provisions of the Workers Compensation Act to ensure jockeys who perform work away from a registered race track have access to workers compensation in case of injury.
Currently under schedule 1 of the Workers Compensation Act jockeys are deemed employees of the race club where they are riding for the purposes of workers compensation. This covers riding in races and track work. However jockeys are not covered if they perform work outside a registered race track.
The AWU claims this is a problem in rural and regional areas as many jockeys are forced to perform work away from the track to secure race rides. The AWU believes it is totally unsatisfactory to have jockeys working and not being covered by workers compensation, and is seeking to expand the coverage of the Act.
The issue came to the unions attention after two jockeys in rural areas were seriously injured performing work away from the track , and had claims for workers compensation rejected.
AWU racing industry organiser Matt Thistlewaite says the AWU has commenced consultations with industry representatives through the NSW Workers Compensation Advisory Council but was facing resistance.
" It is absolutely ridiculous in this day and age to have a group of workers in a dangerous occupation, without workers compensation coverage. The AWU will not cop anything less than full coverage for NSW jockeys," Thistlewaite says.
"Unfortunately the NSW Thoroughbred Racing Board are resisting the proposed amendments, but that is nothing unusual. We will be fighting at all levels of government, and in the public to ensure this amendment gets up. Jockeys deserve the same coverage at work as any other worker and we will settle for nothing less."
The Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union says the action is occurring around the Motels, Accommodation and Resorts Award, which was stripped back to the 20 core award conditions by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission in June.
Employers are now trying to have the same provisions from the State Counterpart Award - a move that would result in a number of important and progressive entitlements being removed.
These include restrictions on the use of casuals, delegate noticeboards, trade union training leave, first aid provisions
The state award covers hundred of small operators, particularly rural hotel-motels, where the LHMU says workers need the protection of a strong award.
"This is a technical legal issue, but it could affect a lot of workers," LHMU research officer Aaron Magner says.
The LHMU has asked the Labor Council to look at the issue, concerned it will leave the state system irrelevant.
by Noel Hester
The viciously anti-union ECA, written by and for employers, has made New Zealand an international pariah in industrial relations. It fails all the key conventions of the International Labour Organisation.
Even by the ruling National Party's own criteria the ECA has been a dismal failure - labour productivity is down not up, unemployment is up not down and wage disparity has increased not decreased.
Labour promises to replace the ECA with new workplace law that promotes collective bargaining, recognises unions and is consistent with ILO conventions. Under Labour, union membership will remain voluntary.
Industrial action in pursuit of a collective agreement will be lawful, including the right to strike for multi-employer agreements.
An extra week annual holiday, twelve weeks paid parental leave, an increase in the minimum wage and a pay equity law are the main features of the Alliance's workplace relations policy.
Kiwi Workers Urged to Vote
Meanwhile, New Zealand citizens working in Australia are being encouraged to vote in the election to help ensure a change of government.
CFMEU rank and file member Gary Preston is circulating information around worksites, with information on how to enrol.
The only requirement to vote is that you have to have been in New Zealand within the last three years.
To enrol contact the CFMEU on 0293949494 or visit http://www.elections.org.nz/
The FSU has negotiated site agreements with NAB which include payments of up to $3,000 for working after 8.00pm on the 31st December and a special payment of $500 plus 3.5 times normal hourly rate for NRMA employees.
It has also successfully lobbied the NSW Government to declare December 31 a half day public holiday - although the federal government and other States are yet to move on the issue.
But a number of employers are refusing to negotiate with FSU, arguing that current enterprise agreements do not allow for extra claims during the period of the agreement.
"The changeover to the millennium is a special issue for the finance sector with many employees who would never normally be asked to work over this period being asked to monitor Y2K," FSU state secretary Geoff Derrick says..
"If ever there was an issue of balancing work and life then the millennium must be it. FSU believes that employees should not be expected to give up celebrating the millennium with their friends and family for nothing. "
Finance sector employees in the UK have negotiated significant payments to work over this years New Year period. Information provided by FSU's sister union in the UK, MSF, reveals that employees who work the evening of Friday 31st December can expect to receive up to eight times their normal hourly rate. Examples of payments for working Friday 31st December include the following:
- Abbey National - 6 times normal hourly rate
- Alliance & Leicester - normal bank holiday rates plus 100 pounds per hour
- AXA - 3 times normal hourly rate + 300 pounds
- Barclays - 750 pound payment for attendance
- CGU - 3 times normal bank holiday hourly rate + 300 pounds
- Colonial - 3 times normal hourly rate + 500 pounds
- Midland Bank - 8 times normal hourly rate
- NatWest - 4 times normal hourly rate + 300 pounds
- Royal Bank of Scotland - 2 times normal hourly rate + 90 pounds per hour
"It is interesting that senior executives seek to justify their outrageous > salary increases on the basis of global conditions yet refuse to > acknowledge global conditions when it suits them," Derrick says.
Spread the Deal to Welfare Sector
Meanwhile, the Council of Social Service of NSW (NCOSS) has asked the Premier, Bob Carr, to make a major New Years Eve wage bonus available to all employees who work, or are on call in the State's non profit residential care services for the disabled, the aged and young people and in all homeless persons agencies and refuges.
"Workers, giving up their turn of the century New Years Eve in these essential and emergency services, should be treated no differently to State public servants who have been offered a 300 per cent pay increase for the night," NCOSS Director, Gary Moore says.
"The NSW Government directly funds and contracts most of these community organisations to provide accommodation, care and support services for some of the State's most disadvantaged or vulnerable people."
"It has a moral obligation to value the work and dedication of employees in these community agencies in the same way that, quite rightly, it is proposing to do so with police, health and transport workers and emergency services staff."
NCOSS has also sought an assurance from the Premier that the extra costs of special New Years Eve pay increases will not have to be met from existing Departmental Budgets.
"These costs should be met from the Treasurer's contingency fund or general consolidated revenue," Moore says. "Departmental Budgets are already struggling to meet the costs of normal service provision across NSW. It would be irresponsible to force Departments and agencies to meet New Years Eve pay bonuses from these Budgets."
"We hope that the Premier will respond favourably to our modest and logical proposals. NCOSS will also seek the support of the NSW Labor Council."
Not only has 'The Climb Sydney' refused to allow organiser Caroline Chester entry to the staff tea room the company then told the MEAA Organiser she was not allowed to talk to the bridge climbers on Cumberland St in the Rocks because it was part of their workplace.
MEAA has been working with the Bridge Climbers to improve their terms and conditions of work and address safety matters since the Company varied the workers contracts to undermine a number of their previous conditions.
The Company has continuously removed MEAA information sheets from the workplace; warned staff not to talk to MEAA persons and refused to deal with employee issues such as working on the Bridge in bad weather.
Not only that the Company extended the climbers hours to midnight without consultation or a pay increase and no assistance in getting home.
When employees attempted to negotiate improvements to their varied agreements the Company refused to talk to individual members and started a fear campaign amongst the staff.
Caroline is planning a bridge climb day of unionists so she can talk to members and potential members. Contact her at MEAA if your interested in being involved.
The High Court has upheld a jury decision to award more than $800,000 to a Melbourne wharfie who has since died after contracting the deadly cancer, mesothelioma
This is the first time a waterside worker has successfully sued for asbestos disease. The landmark ruling ends a two year saga for widow Maureen Crimmins, whose husband Brian was exposed to raw asbestos shipped loose in hessian bags when he worked on the Melbourne waterfront between 1961 and 1965.
"Under the system of labour at the time, waterside labourers worked casually for more than 15 different stevedores, making it impossible to determine which employer was responsible when a worker was exposed," Kent says.
"Workers in other industry groups have long been able to provide for their families by seeking compensation for the devastating health effects of their asbestos exposure."
The only compensation for waterside workers to date has been through an industrial agreement the union negotiated in 1982. It provides ex-gratia payments of $50,000 for any member proved to have contracted asbestos disease.
The payouts do not stop members seeking compensation claims or common law action in the courts. Mr Crimmins sued the Stevedoring Industry Finance Committee, a statutory authority which succeeded the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, the body formerly in charge of waterfront operations nationally.
In March 1997, after a 17 day trial, a jury awarded Crimmins $833,622 based on evidence of how he had contracted mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos during his days on the waterfront.
The Stevedoring Industry Finance Committee successfully appealed, but today's High Court decision restores the original jury decision.
Solicitor Margaret Kent says during the 1950s and 1960s there were more than 20,000 men working as wharfies at any given time, with considerable amounts of asbestos moving through the ports.
"Wharfies are in the top 10 occupational groups affected by mesothelioma," Ms Kent said. "The latest projections are that deaths from asbestos related disease will continue to increase for the next 20 years. Mr Crimmins died in July 1998.
Technical teacher trainer and assistant in training coordination based in Phnom Penh for 16 months, working with vocational training programs for poor rural and urban women. Suitable applicants will have extensive experience in vocational or technical training, tertiary qualifications in adult education, ability to adapt to other training areas and be flexible about roles, ability to learn the history and dynamics of a complex program, capacity to maintain good relationships with a range of local government and non-government organisations, ability to work with Cambodian staff. In particular, skills in textiles/design training would be valuable. Applications are due 10 December.
Coordinator, East Timor office for one year.
Duties will include establishing an office and presence for APHEDA in East Timor, representing APHEDA in East Timor and continuing to develop links with Timorese and international organisations in country, securing facilities in Dili for vocational training courses, supporting visits by training and technical staff from Australia, identifying resources to develop programs in the areas of health, education, media, construction and trade union training. Applicants should have experience similar to those described above for the position in Cambodia. Applications are due 28 January.
Salary for both is $ 40,0408 p/a, with 7% superannuation and living allowances.
Expressions of interest are also invited (by 10 Dec) from suitably qualified and experienced people who could provide short term training in participatory evaluation for APHEDA partners in the Mekong region working in training for health workers and rural women.
APHEDA - Union Aid Abroad is also seeking to appoint a short-term coordinator to establish an APHEDA office in East Timor. The starting date is for the end of November. The end date of the appointment is the end of February 2000. This position will be appointed by Wednesday 17 November
Positions require experience in international development, particularly in the South or sE Asian regions, and commitment to trade union principles. Written applications should address specific criteria and include a brief resume. For the job description or further information, please contact Ken Davis or Phillip Hazelton on (02) 9264 9343, fax: 9261 1118 , Box 3 Trades Hall 4 Goulburn St Sydney 2000, or mailto:[email protected]
Fax: 02-9261 1118, mailto:[email protected]
Upcoming Timor Support Events
* A BBQ is planned for the East Timorese refugees and the wives and families of Australian soldiers serving in East Timor. This will take place at East Hills Park, Henry Lawson Drive East Hills, between 12 noon and 3pm on Sunday 21 November. All involved in East Timor are welcome to attend, contact John McGrath from the Australia East Timor Association to book in, on 9771 5426.
* There will be a memorial service for victims of the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre this Saturday the 13th at 10am, St Mary's Cathedral Sydney.
* Meanwhile the CFMEU clothing/toys/food appeal continues. Canned food, toys and clean clothes can be dropped into the Union's Lidcombe office, 6-12 Railway Street Lidcombe anytime between 8am and 5pm, Mon-Wed. One lot of clothing went up by semi to Darwin last week. The next leaves next Wednesday.
* A consortium of seven Australian universities is collecting books to re-establish the University of East Timor. Gleebooks will apparently be a collection depot but best to ring and confirm. Details Jane Dury 9772 6319 (w).
* A fundraiser jointly organised by four local councils, two Federal MP's and a Neighbourhood Centre (what a combination!) will take place at Manly Oval 11am-8pm Sunday November 28. Proceeds go to Mary Mackillop and AMI (a Portugese charity). On offer are "many, many" performers, classical through to rock. Tickets $10/family $25 at the gate only. Details Helen Claringbold 9977 6411.
* The CFMEU/APHEDA reconstruction appeal is also underway. This project seeks to provide vocational training for East Timorese workers, while building 12 huge "longhouses" as temporary shelter for up to 300 people each. Details/donations contact APHEDA, Sydney 9264 9343, mailto:[email protected].
* And finally an East Timor Christmas Party will take place Sunday 12 December, 4-10PM at the Annandale Hotel. Performers include the National Junk Band, Shongo, Dennis Albury and the now familiar frenzy of choirs. Tickets "probably $10" and details from the ubiquitous Jefferson Lee, 9564 5465.
10th Aniversary of the fall of the fall of Communism
"Should the call for democratizing the Soviets really arise in Communist Circles and find supporters, it would surely be ridiculous not to take the latter at their word and to support them. The call might gain significance as a sign of a tottering of the dictatorship and a means of further shattering it. It would never be the result of a clear, straightforward, well defined policy of the Soviet Government, but only one of the many contradictory results of its zig-zag course and the growing rifts which announce the downfall of the Communist Party."
(Bolshevism at a Deadlock. by Kautsky K. George Allen & Unwin Ltd. 1931)
I am all for a pluraliat approach to the content of the worker's news weekily, but puhleeze! what is Reith doing here? Seriously, the excuse that the editorial offered, that it is simply providing us with the opportunity to really find out what Reith thinks is an insult to the intelligence of every worker in this country.
First, do you honestly believe that workers do not know what Reith thinks about them and their rights at work? Have you not read opinion polls which show clearly that Australians generally rate him as untrustworthy and partisan? Do you think the workers who have recently given evidence of their treatment at work under Reith's laws at the senate inquiry into the second wave IR legislation do not understand where he stands?
Secondly, Reith has available to him all the airspace and time he needs to get his message across, unlike the average worker, for whom WOL is the only generally accessible broad based and union friendly journal in the country. So how come you have given him a free kick? Shame on you. This has been a definite error of judgement.
With regard to Reith's little gem.Somebody should remind him if his position was directly elected he be out of a job! has he forgotten that the Labor Party scored 52% of the primary vote last election?
I'm all for more direct democracy and accountability in the union movement. Bring it on!
Labour and capital can never be reconciled!
Uri Ben-Avraham (ANF)
Let us pray,
If Australia is now a constitutional monarchy and little johnny's preamble has been rejected by popular vote, and the general idea of a republic has been rejected, can we not now put forward a motion like this?
Should not the Leader of the Opposition (KB) appeal to the Governor General, to appeal to our newly elected Head-of-State ie. The Queen, to remove our Prime Minister? Does not the Queen generally follow the idea and the instruction of the Governor-General? I'm going to send a number of emails to Kim Beazley to direct Billy Deane to direct the Head-of-state to Dismiss the Prime Minister because thats what the people want. Bitter, bitter, bitter.
Lets put this unchanged constitution to the the test and make the people of
Australia realise the opportunity they have missed.
It's a Joke!
'How many monarchists does it take to change a lightbulb?'
Where Now For The Republic?
Where now for the republic? We have learnt that:
* Most Australians want a republic, including about half of those who voted "no".
* However, the "yes" vote will have to increase by 8-9 per cent, to about 54 per cent, to win a majority in a majority of states.
* The monarchists were able to mobilise the same forces of political alienation that Hansonism mobilised. Hence the "yes" case did worst in rural areas and in the state with the highest One Nation vote (Queensland). In every state it did best in the inner city areas, whether Labor or Liberal, where One Nation polled the poorest.
* Public support for direct election of a president is fundamentally soft, as shown by the deliberative poll. If a direct election model had to be specified, scrutinised and put to referendum, the monarchists would form a new coalition that would tap the same anti-politician sentiments we have seen and ensure its defeat - probably by an even greater margin than last weekend's poll. ("Don't give all this power to a single politician!") The'direct electionists' would reap the seeds they have sown.
To secure a republic, a two-stage process is essential. The first stage is a referendum (not a plebiscite, which has no constitutional effect) on the Republic. But its validity must be contingent on the second stage taking place: a referendum on direct election. While they could be held simultaneously, separating them would allow for proper scrutiny of the direct election model and avoid a merging of issues.
The direct electionists would have to support the first referendum. This would weaken, but not destroy, the Hansonite tactics of the monarchists. If the direct election model fails, a minimalist model would prevail.
Success in obtaining a republic requires other elements. Better education about the constitution would be a good start. And critically, it requires better behaviour from our politicians. Political alienation was not always this high. Years of non-core promises, of deteriorating Ministerial standards, and of parties enthusiastically pursuing policies that weaken social infrastructure and defy their supporters' beliefs, have brought us to this situation where anti-politician rhetoric has such resonance.
It will take some conscious choices and years of better engagement with electors by parliamentarians to reverse that trend - longer than most republicans will be willing to wait. Long before then the last monarchist Prime Minister will have passed faintly into history. Let us hope that his successors on both sides of the House can give us the confidence in ourselves and in those we vote for to finally have one of us as Head of State.
Thankyou for the updates on the 'Boston Strangler' award. As a twenty year member of the ALP and over thirty years in the Teachers' Federation this latest attack on my working conditions is a real test of my commitment to the party I thought believed in affordable, accessible education for all.
It saddens me to the point of depression that the profession I believe does most for ensuring that our society remains one of justice and equity for all, is being attacked by an appointed representative of the NSW Labor Government.
As the only ALP representative in my workplace the shame is almost too much to bear.
Yours in Unity,
Wagga Wagga TAFETA
Cyber-Ken Faces Basic Tests
I don't want to knock the idea of creating Cyber-Ken but it will do great damage to teachers if someone doesn't check the grammer before publishing, particularly when a number of letters have identical errors in sentence structure.
Hi, I got your address from a union watch site here in the States. I belong to a small local#24 Nabet/CWA in a small town in upstate New York near the St. Lawarence River across from Canada. Watertown New York has Two commercial Television stations.
I work at WWNY TV7 a CBS affiliate here in Watertown. We are under attack by the Corporation that owns us. They live in Kenosha Wisconsin. We have been without a contract for one year with no sign of getting one. We are currently in a state of Mobilization but our unit is broke. CWA is sending money to continue our struggle. We only have 16 members left in our unit, down from 41 members when this Corporation purchased us in 1981.
They have whittled away at us and now they want the rest of our job jurisdictions. This spells the end of the union. Any ideas from you to help bring these people back to the table would be appreciated. Mabey a different perspective from around the other side of the planet is what we need.
This company should be ashamed of theirselves as they had $40,500,000.00 in sales last year according to Dun and Bradstreet report. Thank you for taking the time to read our plea for help.
John Pierce - mailto:[email protected]
Suddenly it dawned on me. The usual headline Satire, warning us of what was to follow was missing from the Maguire column (Workers Online no. 37). I must admit for the first couple of paragraphs I didn't wake up but once I got to his comments on insider trading it clicked.
It must be satire because no pro union/worker article would point to corporate behaviour and the ASC as a model of rectitude which unions could happily follow. Or maybe it was Peter Reith in disguise as he has been pushing for unions to be regulated under the corporations law.
I reread it. Of course he was pulling our legs. Why else the blindingly obvious statement presented as a revelation that only union leaders haven't woken up to, that the structure of the workforce has changed? Why else would he equate monopoly status of unions in workplaces with 40% coverage at most and no representation in hospitality and information technology? Why else would he not mention the active campaigns by employers to lock unions out of such industries? Why else would he not mention the successes of unions in organising electronically in such workplaces?
Even funnier was his comment that the federal government should stop "mindlessly crippling" unions and instead have a financial registrar. Thanks, Pete, oops, I mean Paul, for the information that the incredibly complex Workplace Relations Act and the new wave of amendments to that act have been just a rush of blood and serious thought will now go into how to really cripple the unions. If you are not Peter Reith, I'm sure he will be giving you a call very soon.
Legislative reform is necessary, but maybe of the kind that would make it possible for unions to inform workers of their rights, and to defend and extend those rights. The current legislation makes it more difficult and the Maguire proposal would compound this by giving far more inquisitorial powers to regulators at a time when the ASC and industry bodies are actively pursuing self regulation for corporations. Transnationals are still actively pursuing the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) proposals to remove all hindrances to their operations. Wouldn't it be fun the have the grey accountants and corporate police diverted to spend their time investigating the small time accounts of unions rather than wasting time chasing the movement of global fund managers.
I'm sorry Paul Maguire left the union movement and now works as an employer. At least in the unions his sense of humour might have provoked a laugh. As an industrial relations advisor to employers, I'm sure the employees find him anything but funny.
by Peter Lewis
Two days after the Republic went down, how are you feeling?
We are disappointed but we are defiant at the same time. We are already beginning to talk about what the next steps are going to be. Yes, we lost. But ... forty six per cent of Australians not only wanted a Republic but wanted this model and when you look at it that way it's not a bad result at all, given the odds that were stacked up against us. So we're feeling disappointed of course, but we are going to soldier on. The Republican spirit is still well and truly alive.
How do you soldier on though? Turnbull's flagged that he's walking away from it. There is a lot of community dissatisfaction with the ARM and the way they ran their campaign. Howard said it's officially off the agenda and Beazley really says we are not going to look at it for five years. You need to get a Labor Government first before he'll do it anyway. So, how do you keep it on the agenda?
You keep the networks that are pro-Republic. I mean, bear in mind that those 46 per cent of voters for a Republic obviously saw through all the scare mongering of the No Campaign. We lost due to lies basically and I imagine that everybody who voted Yes feels similarly to the way I do about this. And that is that we were ripped off. That this campaign was a campaign of deception, and that it was always stacked against us.
I mean, there's a certain amount of frustration and anger there, and that will remain into the future. It's just a matter of keeping up the networks and the next time around it's going to be a much more grass roots community based process. That's what Kim Beazley has flagged. He wants that to happen and so it's up to us to start retaining those grass roots networks - building on them - and putting in place a more consultative sort of process to gauge what the public wants. To start educating at a grass roots level about what direct election means. What becoming a Republic means. Getting people to the starting line basically.
So are you basically accepting that the next referendum will be on the direct election model and that Republicans have to accept that's it and get behind that?
We need to think about direct election. I mean, direct election is difficult and it's always been my view that it's a radical change - it's a very big change for our system of government. Now, that may well be a good thing but it will be difficult to pass at a referendum, simply because it is a radical change and the scare mongering of the No Campaign to accompany that will be even bigger than the scare campaign this time round.
I think what it will take is a political process to back it, preceded by a plebiscite on do we want to become a Republic or not. That's what Kim Beazley said. I think a plebiscite is absolutely essential because that way you can knock out the monarchists and you knock out the scare mongers and then it becomes an intelligent debate about what sort of model is best for Australia.
Do you accept that any Republic is contingent on Labor winning power federally?
I would say so, because I can't see anybody from the Liberal Party, apart from Peter Reith, but you never really know what Peter Reith's on about, supporting a direct election model. And I think the public pressure will be on the direct election model. Peter Costello is a Republican but he's a conservative Republican and from what I understand of his views, There's little prospect he'll back a direct election model. He will probably favour something even more conservative than the model put up this time.
In terms of the results that came through on Saturday, it appears that the Republicans just failed to get their message across with the lower socio-economic groups - with working class Australia. Surely that's an indictment on the ARM and the way they ran their campaign?
I don't think so at all. I mean, how do you expect an organisation of private individuals with really a small budget to educate an entire nation?. I mean, we didn't have very much more than the $7.5 million given to us. How do you expect a group of private individuals to bring the Australian public up to speed, starting from scratch to bring them up to a level of understanding of the system of government where an informed choice could be made. hat's not a responsibility of private citizen. That's a responsibility of government and I think the government has failed dismally in that this year. It was obviously in John Howard's interests to do so because he wanted this referendum to fail from the start.
But then you say that what we need to do next time is improve the grass roots campaigning. Are we saying then that we've got to rely on government to do the grass roots campaigning?.
I think we need to do two things. What happened this time was right after the Constitutional Convention process the excitement fell away and we only had a few months - probably about half a year to a year to start the grass roots work. We tried as hard as we could but because initial polling showed that 30% of Australians didn't even know we had a Constitution, it was always an incredible difficult process to bring the community up to a level of understanding where an informed vote could be made.
The Republicans in many ways had to wage two campaigns. One was an information campaign itself; and two was a vote YES campaign, and it was just too much for the time that we had. Especially, starting from a starting point of indifference largely.
So, what have you learned about politics during the whole process?
The biggest lesson I think is, as Bryan Brown said, you can't fall down after the first punch. It's a long term process. The other thing I've learned is that there are people with differing views to your own, who may feel as passionately about their point of view as you do about yours, and it's a matter of respecting other people's opinions. Not necessarily believing that everything that you have to say is necessarily right, but that the debate and the invective is all part of our healthy democracy.. All this debate and the invective and the exchange of opinions are all part of our healthy and thriving democracy in Australia.
So, what are your plans now?
I'm going to go back to New York to finish my studies. To finish my Masters for six months and then I've got no idea. I'm going to head home and hopefully make myself useful.
Have you worked out what you are going to say to your classmates in New York?
I'm going to say look, Australia is Republican. We were done in by a Prime Minister who had rigged this process to fail. We did the best that we could. We lost the battle but we will win the war.
You're still keen to keep going with the Republican cause - and what about other political causes?
There are three major causes that really get the blood up in me and they are all intangible causes. Issues of the soul as Lindsay Tanner calls them. That's reconciliation, multi-culturalism and the Republic. They are issues of identity about where we are going as a people. Honestly, who we are as a people and they are very, very important for getting our society on the right track, building on social cohesion and making everybody feel welcome here. A much more inclusive notion of what it means to be Australian so that nobody is made to feel unwelcome in their own home.
Finally, you've probably spent more time on air in the past few months with Sophie Panopoulous than any other Australian. What memories of that will you take away with you?
Oh look. You couldn't get a word in with Sophie. She was obviously passionate about what she believed, but here opinions were all over the place. She was entirely inconsistent and I just hope that there's some good film footage of her saying "don't trust the politicians" because I'm almost certain that she is going to run for Liberal Party pre-selection in two years time at the next Federal Election.
Masquerading as an inarticulate school teacher, the millionaire's daughter built her No campaign around attacking the 'elites' of the Yes camp.
Hypocrisy was no barrier as she jumped into bed with the Direct Electionist- Fairies at the Bottom of the Garden faction, constructing a fine campaign around the idea that politicians can not be trusted. She is now expected to use this as a springboard into a political career of her own.
Her ability to quote senile High Court retirees without understanding what they meant was as inspiring as her simplistic platitudes, delivered as if she was reading from a malfunctioning autocue.
It was nicely topped off by her Referendum night make-over and 'victory' speech, delivered to a crown of aging toffs and Young Lib hacks high on fine champagne.
Pauline without the red curls, we salute Kerry for detracting from our public debates and leaving the national polity a little more scarred than before she found it.
She's defaced the nation. Now it's over to you!
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by John Passant
I think I know why Marx was so popular (much to the surprise of the BBC and respectable commentators.). It's because his analysis of the crisis ridden nature of capitalism makes sense. By comparison capitalist economists seem completely unable to explain why the global capitalist system has booms and busts and, periodically, deep crises.
Of course, they will come up with the usual sterile responses to dealing with economic crisis - wages are too high, or workers are lazy, or government is crowding out the operations of the free market. What they cannot explain is why the society we live in depends for its existence on attacking wages, conditions and jobs.
What has the past 25 years shown us? The three major pro-capitalist economic trends - keynesianism, monetarism and now economic rationalism - cannot correct any of the economic problems. The most obvious indicator of a system in crisis is its inability to provide jobs for all in the world at satisfactory living levels.
The irony is that some bourgeois commentators are now beginning to turn to Marx - the revolutionary who worked tirelessly for the overthrow of capitalism - in order to understand their own system.
While Marx might help them understand capitalism's inner workings, his analysis - that the problems of capitalism flow from the way capitalist production is organised - lead to the conclusion that the system is ultimately doomed. It has become a brake on the development of humanity. And if that is the case, it needs to be replaced with a better way of organising the way we produce goods and services.
What then did Marx say about capitalism? Since I don't have 50 volumes and a lifetime in which to write for readers, I will have to be brief and necessarily simplistic.
Marx identified the basic problem of capitalism as being the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. Marx described this as the single most important law of modern political economy. What did he mean?
Competition forces capitalists to increase their levels of productivity to stay afloat. Like mice on a wheel they have to run faster to stay in the same spot.
One way that capitalists increase productivity is by investing more and more in machinery and technology. Yet according to Marx machines cannot create any extra value. They can only transfer the value embodied in them (representing labour) into the product being produced.
Marx argued that it was only labour which could create new value in commodities. Commodities are sold (more or less) at their value, which is the socially necessary labour time taken to produce them.
However labour is a special type of commodity. The socially necessary labour time involved in the reproduction of human labour is the amount needed to feed, clothe and house the worker and the next generation of workers, with perhaps a few trinkets like TV and beer (or in my case drambuie) thrown in.
How then does a worker add value to commodities?
A worker may be able to reproduce their value in say 20 hours of work. However, instead of working only 20 hours, typically the worker labours another 15 or 20 hours per week. Marx called this surplus labour. It is this labour which creates surplus value (i.e. the value over and above the value needed to reproduce the worker's labour.)
This surplus value is the basis of profit. Despite the fact it is produced by the labour of workers, it is expropriated by the employer.
The employing class will attempt to increase productivity by spending larger and larger sums on technology in comparison to the amount it spends on human labour.
Total spending on machines increases in proportion to that spent on the one commodity which can produce surplus value, namely labour. So overall, the rate of profit (measured as the ratio between new value and the overall cost of investment in both labour and capital) will fall.
The production of commodities Marx identified as the productive sphere of capital. Other areas, such as finance and the public service, do not create new value. Rather they shuffle around already created value.
As profit rates fall in the productive sector, capitalists have to invest more and to receive the same amount of profit. Eventually capital reaches a point at which it is not worth investing the huge amounts for a paltry return. The system stops.
Capital responds in ways which will be familiar.
It cuts costs by laying off workers. It attempts to increase the rate of exploitation - for example by making workers work longer hours.
It attacks social programs. It does this because these programs are financed out of the total surplus created by workers and spending on the programs lessens the amount which can be converted into profit. It's why today the employing class is clamouring for savage cuts in welfare, health and education spending.
As well, economic crisis sends many capitalists bankrupt. This destruction of value enables those who remain to take over capital cheaply and thus build new capital. But as the experience of the last twenty years or so shows, each recovery is weaker than the preceding one.
As the rate of profit falls in the productive sphere, capital looks to invest in other sectors, such as property, finance, or currency speculation. While the real economy is stagnating, the speculative economy booms. But since the non-productive sector is dependent in the end on the extraction of surplus value from the productive sector, the speculative boom cannot last. Share values, property values and so on plummet.
There are countervailing tendencies to the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. Increasing productivity decreases the costs of goods and technology because the amount of socially necessary labour time required to produce them is reduced. This means that the amount of socially necessary labour time required to reproduce labour falls, (from say 20 hours to 15 hours) so that the absolute surplus value created increases if the working week remains the same.
In addition, capital attempts to increase the working week to extract more surplus from workers. In fact the working week has increased over the last twenty years as a typical capitalist response to problems with the rate of profit (and because of the failure of the union movement to fight against this trend.)
Capital introduces speed ups so that more commodities are produced. It wants us to do more with less.
Capital also looks to export its products and realise value that way. As well, it moves towards larger and larger conglomerations to more efficiently exploit workers. How ironic. Competition produces monopoly.
These counter tendencies slow down but do not stop the decline in profit rates.
All of this is dangerous analysis. Marx shows that capitalism is a system of crisis and that when the rate of profit falls low enough, major economic crisis will follow.
When the very way we organise production - for profit - prevents us from satisfying basic human needs, it is clear the system has become an obstacle to the further development of humanity.
Only by sweeping capitalism aside and setting up a system of production based on democracy and satisfying human need can we truly progess.
Marx - the man with the ideas for the new millennium.
John is an independent socialist trying to understand how capitalism works.
If you think you've got a story to rival this one, you could be jetting off to a destination of your choice over summer.
That's right, Labor Council is offering a $2000 air fare to travel and observe an overseas trade union. Click the button below to enter.
Jesse Choy, NSW Public Service Association
I have been a member of the Public Service Association (PSA) since 1993 when I was first employed as an Award Advisory Officer with the Department of Industrial Relations. After eight months, I joined the ministerial staff of the Attorney General and Minister for Industrial Relations. After working directly for the Minister for four years, a union seemed the most obvious and industrially sound choice. Although I enjoyed working for Jeff Shaw, I believe most people have a limited political life and I had exhausted mine. I applied for and won the position of Organiser in 1998. I began my new industrial career with the PSA in February 1999.
My first major win for a member of the PSA, came some 3 months after I began.
Scott had been acting as a Technical Assistant - Rural Studies at Richmond College of TAFE for three years. The position was advertised in September 1998. He attended an interview in late December 1998. Scott felt confident about his application and his interview. After acting in the role for three years, he had obviously attained the requisite knowledge and experience. However, during the interview he was asked a question that worried him greatly, one which he felt was not within his scope of duties. Scott was told some four months later that he had been unsuccessful in attaining the position and the job would have to be re-advertised.
The local workplace delegate encouraged Scott to contact the union. Jim felt this issue was beyond his capabilities and was a matter for a paid union official. Scott rang me two days later.
Scott came into the PSA in Clarence Street to discuss his situation. Scott was very distressed and had sought medical attention. After acting in the job for three years, he was devastated that he had not been chosen as the most capable candidate. He was depressed and was also suffering with insomnia. Scott had a young family; his daughter Jade was two years old and his wife Larissa was pregnant with their second child. Their baby was due in August. The prospect of unemployment seemed more unpalatable than ever, for him and his young family.
I asked Scott to provide me with the job advertisement, application and the interview panel's report. From the documentation, I was able to ascertain Scott was unsuccessful due to his response to the one question. It was the question which Scott had felt uneasy about and rightfully so.
After fully researching the statement of duties, the advertisement and the comparison with other colleges - I realised the question should not have been permitted. Scott was judged, assessed and rejected on the basis of one inappropriate question. The question did not pertain to either the essential or the desirable criteria of the position advertised.
I sought advice from the TAFE Industrial Officer at the PSA, Sally McManus, and resolved not to contact the convenor of the panel. We also resolved to contact the Western Sydney Institute of TAFE directly, rather than by appeal through GREAT.
Lesson 1: Never be afraid to ask your industrial officer for advice.
I contacted the Employee Relations Manager of the Western Sydney Institute of TAFE, Steven Beasley. I informed him of the PSA's keen interest in this matter, as it felt its' member had been assessed unfairly.
Lesson 2: Aggressive and confrontational tactics are not a starting point for fruitful and positive discussion.
I informed Scott of my movements and reassured him of the PSA's interest.
Lesson 3: Keep the member informed
I also let Scott know that the PSA's involvement does not automatically guarantee expedient resolution.
Lesson 4: Keep realistic timeframes and expectations.
I called Steven Beasley twice in four days to ensure he had called for the panels' report and recommendations. Steven accepted my calls and understood the urgency of the situation.
Lesson 5: Persistency enables familiarity to flourish and relaxes natural adversaries.
Within two weeks, Steven Beasley contacted me to apologise for the detraction from procedure for the interview. Steven accepted that the Institute had failed to adhere to process and as a result, an injustice had occurred. He informed me that he would intervene and would reassess Scott's application personally.
Lesson 6: Intervention by human resources managers can be a good thing.
Fifteen working days later, Scott was appointed to the position of Technical Assistant - Rural Studies at Richmond College of TAFE.
Scott was grateful and overwhelmed by the expediency of the resolution. He was encouraged by the activism of the Public Service Association and particularly, my direct interaction with management. He had never called on his union before, and was unaware of the extent of the union's influence.
I encouraged him to use this positive experience as an introduction to his union and to enroll in the next delegates' training course.
Lesson 7: Grateful members make fantastic delegates.
Scott was nominated as the new delegate for WSIT, Richmond Campus. He has since completed an Introduction to the Union course and a Delegates One training course.
Scott is in regular contact with myself and is an active and enthusiastic delegate.
Lesson 8: Empowered and informed delegates are better recruiters.
On 20 August 1999, Larissa and Scott welcomed a baby boy to the Fletcher family. His name is Jesse.
by This Working Life
QCU Assistant General Secretary, Grace Grace said that the union movement was responding to the concerns raised by casual workers who lack job security.
"As more casual workers join unions, they tell us that their pay does not compensate them for missing out on permanent jobs," Grace said.
Currently, casual workers employed under Queensland State awards are entitled to 19% extra loading on their wages to compensate them for missing out on annual leave, public holidays and sick leave, but Grace argued that the sums just don't add up.
"Current casual rates do not compensate casual workers for missing out on annual leave loading, bereavement leave, notice on termination, career progression, regular earnings and job security," she said.
"Unions will put evidence before the QIRC that argues for a minimum 28.5% loading for all of our members in casual jobs. The 19% casual loading has not changed for over 25 years, but during that period, unions have won many improved conditions, which are currently being withheld from casual workers. The increase is well overdue."
Grace said that unions are concerned about an imbalance in casual versus permanent entitlements, now that the casual loading has slipped behind.
"We are concerned that employers may restrict permanent jobs because casual employment is artificially cheaper, rather than using genuine casual employees to meet peaks and troughs in business demand."
"Unions are also keen to attain and maintain tangible employment benefits for casual workers, over and above the hourly wage," she added.
"Unions believe that casual employees are entitled to long service leave, parental leave, carer's leave, redundancy pay and protection against unfair dismissal.
"Casual employment has grown to 27% of the workforce and Australia has the second highest proportion of temporary workers in OECD countries. Many of our members who are in casual jobs tell us they would rather have a permanent job. We will continue our fight to win job-security for them", said Ms. Grace.
The QIRC has yet to list the matter for hearing.
Union Contact: Grace Grace
Phone: (07) 3846 2468
Email: [email protected]
by Noel Hester
New Zealanders go to the polls in two weeks and the signs are strong the electorate is about to bury this fundamentalist monster with a stake right through the heart.
Although the electorate is volatile polls consistently point to a centre-left Labour-Alliance coalition forming the next Government.
Not even the All Blacks in the World Cup could conjure a 'feel good' factor to save the discredited and scandal-prone National government. Instead the Government is going to be judged, rightly, on its disastrous economic and social record.
An economic basketcase
The current state of the New Zealand economy is an indictment on 15 crazy years as a laboratory of radical, economic rationalist reform.
New Zealand's GDP per capita continues to decline relative to the rest of the developed world. Since the beginning of reform in late 1984 income per person has fallen by around 15 per cent relative to Australia and the rest of the OECD, and is currently about 20 per cent below the Australian level.
New Zealand's current account deficit , the difference between what the country earns and what it spends is a whopping 6.6 per cent of GDP.
Even more alarming is the country's huge investment deficit.
The outflow of property and entrepreneurial income has increased from 4.9 percent of GDP in 1993-1994 to 7.7 percent in the last year.
Respected economist Brian Gaynor of the New Zeland Herald says this is a result of the mass privatisations of the 1980s and 1990s.
'A number of the country's biggest companies are controlled by offshore interests because the Government's asset sale program was biased towards foreign purchasers,' he said.
'In the year to September 1998 the share of earnings attributed to overseas owners was $NZ3.2 billion. All of these earnings were remitted offshore.'
The most recent Provisional National Accounts contained appalling news for the economy. National savings are at their lowest level since 1979. The savings ratio has dropped in each of the last five years. For the last year was less than a quarter what it was in 1993. That included a period of two tax cuts. In neither case did those tax cuts lift national savings. If anything, the reverse is true.
Brian Philpott, emeritus professor of economics at Victoria University says productivity has dropped by half since the economic restructuring of the 80s and early 90s.
The former head of the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research and now Managing Director of Comalco, Kerry MacDonald, says the productivity rate in New Zealand is about one sixth that of Australia and well below the OECD average.
A very fragile democracy
An even bigger indictment of the money men who have taken over the country and their political lackeys is the alarming attitude of a growing number of New Zealanders to politics.
Many people - in a country once renowned for its robust civil society - have simply given up on the political process.
A comprehensive survey conducted this year by a team of academics from Massey University found that 39 per cent of New Zealanders favoured a team of experts or board of directors - not a government - making decisions 'according to what they think is best for the country.'
Seventeen per cent actually supported the idea of a dictatorship , with 'a strong leader' presiding over the country without having to 'bother with parliament or elections.' Two per cent favoured army rule.
Only 75 per cent supported a democratic system.
A nation of working poor
At the grassroots life is very tough. Wayne Thompson, a groundsman at a rest home in Auckland earns so little that he needs a top up of $80 per week from Social Welfare to live.
Two of his children at University already have student loans of $12,000 and $14,000 respectively. Because of a stuff-up with the Student Allowance payments this year his sons had to wait 5 months to receive their first payment, putting an even greater strain on the family finances.
'I worry about the kids owing that much money and they're only 22 and 23 years old. They're on the back foot in life before they've even started,' he said.
Total student debt in New Zealand now stands at more than $3.44 billion. Student loan borrowers paid more than $76 million in interest this year alone.
Tax cuts this year netted Wayne and his family a grand total of $5 per week. But what central government gave, local government took away. The bus fares for his 3 younger children to get to school went up 10 cents a section costing the family an additional three dollars a week.
'Three generations of my family feel alienated from the society they live in,' said Wayne. 'My 75-year-old father is so distressed at what's been going on that he wonders why he even bothered to go to war.'
'Friends and workmates are working their asses off, keeping their nose clean and not rocking the boat at work because their scared of losing their jobs.'
'We've gotta get rid of this National government and turn things round for working families. It's about time workers in this country got a break.'
Noel Hester is a New Zealand refugee working in Sydney. He'll file regular reports in the lead up to the November 27 ballot
by Karl Roessel
Only the Australian government did not let him into the country. When his ship arrived in Fremantle on November 6 of 1934 Australian police searched his cabin and refused to let him from board. When Kisch could not enter Australia even in Melbourne he jumped off the ship and broke his leg.
The police carried him back on board and only in Sydney his lawyers forced the authorities to let him see a doctor at the Sydney City Hospital. After that Kisch had to go through the ridiculous immigration procedure including a dictation test in Gaelic. He spoke seven European languages but they choose Gaelic to make sure that he failed. But Kisch filed a court case against the Australian government and won it!
After that he could give talks at public rallies in the Sydney Domain and even in Melbourne and Adelaide, most of them organised by labour and union organisations. Kisch visited the mines in Newcastle and the prison in Parramatta, Redfern and Botany Bay, Ballarat and Brisbane, and Newnes in N.S.W. before he finally was forced to leave Australia for Europe on March 11, 1935.
Later, Kisch wrote a book ("Australian Landfall") on his experiences with the "White Australian Policy" and the government's anti-communist propaganda against any progressive movement at the time.
Now, more than 60 years later, Karl Roessel, a German radio journalist, is in Australia to do some research for a documentary feature on Kisch's visit in Australia. He is hoping that there still might be some unionists around who met Kisch in 1934/35 in Australia or went to one of his public meetings. Also any other written or recorded information relating to Kisch's visit to Australia is of interest to him.
So, if you remember Egon Erwin Kisch's visit in Australia in 1934/35 or if you have any interesting documents about it, please let him know.
His address in Australia: Karl Roessel,42 Gould Avenue, Lewisham NSW 2049. Ph: 0418 233 212
by Chris Mikul
In 1968, in the wake of Francis Chichester's single-handed circumnavigation of the world in Gypsy Moth IV the previous year, the Sunday Times organised a non-stop, round-the-world yacht race. One of the first to announce his participation was Donald Crowhurst, the 36-year old owner of a small electronics firm based in Somerset. Crowhurst had spent some time in the air force and navy, but had been asked to leave both because of reckless behaviour. He had turned to electronics after setting up a company to market the navigational aids and other devices which he had invented. Although patchily educated, Crowhurst was intelligent and his inventions generally sound, but his company had fallen heavily into debt. This was one of the main reasons for someone who had previously only sailed for a hobby suddenly announcing he would be attempting to circumnavigate the globe - the publicity would ensure the sale of his inventions and the success of his business.
The other reason was that Crowhurst firmly believed himself to be destined for greatness, and he craved the sort of instant fame which Chichester had won. As this was to be the first non-stop circumnavigation (Chichester had made one stop on his trip) the adulation would likely be even greater.
The rules of the race were simple. Any yacht which set out from any port in the world between June 1 and October 31 could be a part of the contest, and as the yachts would be starting at different times there were to be two prizes - one for the yacht which completed the voyage first, and another for the fastest time made. Crowhurst was convinced he could win both.
As the contest was announced in March, Crowhurst only had seven months to design, build and test a yacht. This was an impossibly short time, but he was used to achieving the difficult tasks he set himself. The craft he chose to have built was a three-hulled vessel - a trimaran. This was a risky choice. A trimaran is an extremely stable craft, but once capsized it stays capsized. Crowhurst had invented a gadget to solve this problem however, a rubber bag situated at the top of the mast which would inflate automatically in the event of a capsize, thus bringing the vessel upright again. This was only one of the devices Crowhurst planned to use in his boat.
Crowhurst's boat builders managed to finish the trimaran in a very short time. She was named the Teignmouth Electron after the port of Teignmouth from which Crowhurst would sail. There was little time to test her though, and the design faults which cropped up had to be fixed hurriedly and inadequately. As the deadline for the race approached, Crowhurst, his friends and sponsors worked frantically to gather the stores and equipment needed. There was simply not enough time. When Crowhurst said goodbye to his wife, Clare, and four children on 31 October, the last possible day, his boat was about as badly equipped as it could possibly be.
Things began to go wrong almost immediately. Screws began to work themselves loose and someone had forgotten to put the spare ones on board. His steering gear broke down. One of the floats on either side of the central hull began to fill with water. His generator flooded too, and somehow it had been neglected to load the hose needed for the pump. The boat was a mass of wiring, intended to hook up Crowhurst's many electronic gadgets to a central computer, but had had not had the time to build either the computer or the gadgets. Event the device to bring the boat up should she capsize had not been completed.
Two weeks into his voyage, Crowhurst made a list of all the things wrong with his boat, evaluated their seriousness, and came to the conclusion that there was no way he could complete a round-the-world voyage. Returning home however would not only be humiliating, it would mean the bankruptcy of his firm, which was contracted to buy the trimaran from his chief sponsor in the event of his quitting the race. He considered the possibility of saving face by carrying on to somewhere like Australia, but the chance of doing even this were minimal.
It was now, faced with these unpleasant alternatives, that Crowhurst hit upon a plan. Instead of continuing his voyage - down through the Atlantic around the Cape of Good Hope, past Australia, round Cape Horn and back up through the Atlantic to England again - he would simply remain in the Atlantic, out of the way of shipping lanes and hopefully unnoticed, and pretend he had sailed around the world. It was simple in theory, but would be enormously difficult to carry out in practice. He would have to make radio transmissions of false positions, fake the navigational record of his supposed voyage, even write a Chichester-like account of it. Crowhurst thought he could accomplish all this. There was no way he could win in this manner, for winning would mean his logbooks coming under close scrutiny and their inconsistencies being discovered. He could however make it appear that he had completed the voyage.
So Crowhurst spent the next few months sailing aimlessly around the Atlantic, listening carefully to the world weather reports so that he could record the conditions he would have been experiencing had he continued around the globe. After a while it would have become apparent that his radio signals were coming from the wrong part of the world, so he ceased communication, giving a broken generator as his excuse. In his spare time he studied the few books he had brought with him. One of them, a book on relativity, began to increasingly obsess him.
Crowhurst broke radio silence on 9 April, when his false itinerary had him about to round Cape Horn and re-enter the Atlantic. He learnt there were two other yachtsmen still in the race. One of these was straggling but the other, Nigel Tetley, was ahead of him. Until Crowhurst resumed contact it had been assumed that Tetley would win the prize for being the first home. Now they predicted a close finish. Crowhurst had only to follow in Tetley's wake, let him win, then sail home with honour but without too many people interested in the details of his voyage.
His elaborate plans would probably have succeeded had not something unforeseen occurred. In an effort to beat the times he believed Crowhurst to be making, Tetley began to sail more recklessly. On 21 May, while attempting to pass through a storm, Tetley's yacht capsized and he was out of the race. Corwhurst had only to reach England to win. He would be the first man to circumnavigate the world without stopping. They began to prepare the hero's welcome.
As Crowhurst entered the Sargasso Sea he began to receive telegrams giving him details of this welcome - the boatloads of spectators, the helicopters filled with TV cameras and so on. His radio transmitter had really broken now, so that he could no longer speak to anyone. He had entangled himself in a situation from which there seemed no escape.
It is fortunate then that at this point Crowhurst had a revelation of such cosmic significance that it would inevitably change not only his own future but the future of all mankind. It was an idea that had been growing during the previous months, but only now did he realise the true importance of it. Its germ had come from a passage in the Einstein book in which the latter, while theorising about the travel of light, assumes a certain condition to be so. While he does this purely for the sake of argument, Crowhurst took it to mean that Einstein had changed the nature of the physical world by thought. He had therefore achieved what Crowhurst believed to be the next stage of human evolution - the freeing of the mind from the limitations of the body. And if Einstein could do this anybody could, it simply required an effort of will. Here was an idea so overwhelming that it rendered the problems Crowhurst was facing irrelevant. He could change his situation just by thinking about it. By becoming a god.
Crowhurst immediately banished mundane matters like navigation from his mind. He spent the next few days writing a philosophical essay in one of his logbooks, which eventually came to 25,000 words. It must have struck him as odd that the meaning of life had come to, of all people, a yachtsman engaged in a round-the-world race. Still, it had to come to someone, and now it was his duty to pass it on to mankind. He would leave it for them to find, along with the record of his true voyage, for in his new position as a god he mustn't hide anything. In his words, "Nature does not allow God to sin any sins except one - that's the sin of concealment." On 1 July, having put into words the most important discovery in history, he left his body by jumping into the sea.
So now you too can share the revelation of Donald Crowhurst. You too can be a god. All it takes is a little recklessness. Be wild! Go all the way. Go overboard!
'Bizarrism - Strange Lives, Cults, Celebrated Lunacy' by Chris Mikul (Pluto Press, $24.95)
by The Chaser
While legal experts have expressed concern at the constitutionality of the methods to dismiss the Prime Minister, the public has expressed overwhelming support for this part of the model.
Touted as the new "direct rejection" model and seen as the purest expression of the people's wishes the model has seen a steep rise in the polls after Prime Minister Mr John Howard entered the Republic debate.
"I'm not a violent man, but after three years of John Howard I have been convinced that this is really the only way to go," said one young voter.
The new Armenian model has seen support for the Republic sky-rocket in Australia's rural areas.
"Sure, I'd give up the Queen if I got to shoot something,' said one ex-monarchist farmer. "Actually, I'd give up my own Grandmother if I got to shoot something.
by Labor Essays 1999
In place of a job - the passport to adult citizenship - many have endured a no-man's-land of unemployment, casualdead-end work, mean-spirited welfare and warehousing in schools and training courses. Now, under the Coalition, the Federal Government is abandoning even its training and welfare commitments, stripping young people of the last vestiges of labour market protection while demanding conformity to an anachronistic 1950s' work ethic.
The centrepiece of John Howard's youth policy, the punitive work-for-the-dole scheme, wantonly disregards the skill demands of the contemporary economy and blames the young victims for their own unemployment at a time when the real causes are well known. Hardest hit by unemployment and its attendant woes of poverty and cultural dispossession have been kids from working-class communities. Yet Labor's 'youth policy' ignored cries from its heartland and was insensitive to differences of class among young Australians. At both the federal and State levels Labor and Coalition governments in the '80s and '90s adopted a crude, monolithic concept of 'youth' - shorn of social diversity, difference and citizenship rights.
The Labor Party's continuing failure to move beyond the platitudes of youth rights and come to terms with the messy reality of post-industrial youth subcultures threatens the loss of a new generation, to both the nation and social democratic politics.In this chapter I examine the failure of both major parties on the key youth issue of their times in government, and suggest a sharper analysis for today.
Roots of the 'youth problem'
Labor is often touted as the party with youth appeal. Certainly since the Whitlam 'It's Time' campaign the party has tended to poll well with younger voters. But have Labor governments returned the favour? When Labor swept into office in early 1983 unemployment was at 10 per cent and the new government embarked on an ambitious expenditure program to create jobs in the private and public sectors. The Hawke Government's admirable ambitions to get the unemployed, and particularly young people, back to work were to run aground against its wider agenda to integrate Australia into the global economy and the Treasury's adherence to the new orthodoxy of neo-liberal market policy.
The problem of youth unemployment refused to go away, despite the creation of a million new jobs and impressive economic growth. As teenagers became more visible on the streets, politicians, media, police, clergy and youth workers began to talk about a 'youth problem' associated with an escalation in disobedience at school, joblessness, homelessness, substance abuse, delinquency and crime.
Paradoxically, the elevation of 'young people' to Hawke's 'Priority One' in 1985 set them up for new reversals. Youth unemployment remained entrenched at a level between 15 and 20 per cent, yet the young suffered heavily under subsequent federal cutbacks to services and benefits and endured declining incomes and job opportunities throughout the '90s. Labor did not come to terms with the fundamentals, eschewing job creation in 1986 for increased retention in schools and short-term programs designed to teach job-search skills and provide basic vocational qualifications.
Good intentions, patronising politics and professionally administered programs filled glossy government reports but failed to address what ABC Television saw as the 'crime of the decade', as school leavers from working-class backgrounds encountered a restructuring labour market that did not need many full-time teenage workers. Many long-term unemployed drifted into aberrant behaviour, delinquency, substance abuse, ill-health and, increasingly, suicide.
Others just became passive welfare recipients or under-employed, never quite living up to their potential - a lost generation.. A 1989 ABC television documentary and the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission's report Our Homeless Children both warned that Australia risked creating a permanent youth underclass extending into the next generation if urgent action was not taken. Sadly this appears to have happened.
On the latest evidence, one-fifth 20-25-year-olds are at risk of falling into long-term unemployment despite improved economic conditions. A recent report, Australia's Young Adults: The Deepening Divide, concluded that over the last two decades young adults up to the age of 24 have actually slipped backwards in job prospects and income levels, stuck in work that is low skilled, part time and casual, largely in small companies offering little training or security.
The Howard Government blames high youth wages, inadequate skills and a poor work ethic, but most commentators now see the 'radical transformation of work' as the prime cause of a structural unemployment among teenagers and young adults.
These changes have eliminated not just the entry-level occupations, but also the career pathways within industries. Unemployment has hit some regions and types of work much harder than others. Skilled and semi-skilled blue-collar employment in manufacturing has declined while the information and service sectors have greatly expanded, offering the extremes of high-skilled, well-paid jobs for some and low-skilled, poorly paid under-employment for others. Well-resourced children from privileged and educated families, together with the smart and the lucky, went to university and had a chance, but the children from Labor's heartland were the casualties of change.
Looking back, the approach of governments to the 'youth problem' was to quarter the redundant in education, training and labour market programs (such as EPYU, Participation and Equity Program, Job Start, New Start, Skill Share), while demonising the troublemakers through moral panics about dole bludgers, graffiti, street kids, Asian crime, drugs and gangs. Campaigns by politicians on both sides have maligned the cultures and curtailed the actual liberty of teenagers and young adults. The rhetoric of the Howard Government suggests that 'youth' is now synonymous with an undeserving welfare category that is resented by taxpayers (including workers under 25), who want the young unemployed to work for their meagre unemployment benefit.
The best and brightest youngsters, patronised as 'Australia's future' for going on two decades now, complain about another 'gangland', a middle-aged power elite who squat comfortably at the centre of political and cultural life. Today the limbo of 'youth' is extending de facto into the early thirties of a so-called 'generation X'. In conferences, seminars, roundtables and stand-alone chapters we are witnessing the ghettoisation of a generation, an afterthought tacked on the end of the 'real' debates about trade, industry policy, taxation, immigration and constitutional reform.
Corporatism and the youth discourse
Today, with the ALP in opposition after ruling for thirteen years, it is important to consider how Labor governed and what aspects of its administrative style undid the best intentions of the party and its leaders. In the lead-up to International Youth Year in 1985, Australian governments followed the UN's lead and defined citizens aged fifteen to 25 as 'young people', a group with unique and urgent needs.
Under federal Labor, 'youth' became a special interest group with its due slice of the disadvantaged orange, along with ethnics, the disabled, Aborigines and women. In a bid to neutralise dissatisfaction with entrenched teenage unemployment and to woo a new generation of voters, bureaucracies were established in a flurry of platitudinous rhetoric. With the best intentions, public servants, in tandem with youth workers, educators and trainers, went about constructing a new age-based segregation that legitimated the 'warehousing' of under-employed citizens until well into adulthood. Younger Australians were cleaved from other citizens as an essentialised 'other'.
This crude categorisation was suited to a corporatist style that identified social groups, co-opted favoured leaders into the bureaucracy and traded reforms for electoral mileage. The idea of 'youth' is a conceptual and public relations disaster, homogenising social reality, blunting policy formulation, absolving attacks from the right, and masking economic redundancy. Artificially divorced from other elements in society - especially class - youth policy during the Labor years did little to shepherd young Australians through the period of accelerated changes to family life, women's roles, education, work, technology, ethnic diversity and the role of the state.
Many in the community sector, the broad left, the social movements, the ALP, the Democrats and the ABC, remembering the student radicalism of the '60s, uncritically applaud 'youth politics' as progressive when in fact three conservative themes dominate the construct: elitism, dependence and homogeneity. Since the discovery of 'adolescence' in the nineteenth century, Western society has seen the elongation of 'youth' and postponement of adulthood in tandem with the removal of children and younger teens from the workforce. Legislation protecting children from industrial exploitation went hand in glove with the new idea that the next generation should be educated and trained for citizenship and work in modern industry.
During the '80s the idea of 'youth' as a special interest was elevated to giddy heights, nursed at the bosom of youth workers, promoted by Hawke corporatism and revered as gospel by a new generation of fashionably left-of-centre 'youth' leaders and bureaucrats. Labor politicians thought they were being radical, tapping the 'voice of youth', but it is important to see how comfortably 'youth participation' dovetailed with the elitism of traditional youth leadership movements, such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides.
The all-purpose solution to the problems of youth was a fuzzy concept of consultation and participation called 'empowerment', which passed from the United States via the community youth sector into Commonwealth and State governments' Offices of Youth Affairs during International Youth Year.
Occurring within a classless framework, this principle degenerated into the selection and promotion of teenagers sufficiently articulate and confident to negotiate the new youth bureaucracies. Youth was empowered by putting a handful of well-meaning high-flyers on committees, a practice that continues today with the Howard Government's Youth Roundtable and numerous State-based equivalents.Unfortunately, though, it is doubtful whether young workers or the unemployed are even aware that they have acquired a voice.
Less than adult
In order to work for International Youth Year (IYY) it was preferred that you scraped under the magic age of 25. I was lucky enough to land a job as policy officer for IYY in New South Wales and confess that prior to taking the job had never thought of myself as a 'youth'. Growing up in Wollongong I was accustomed to the blue-collar idea that once in work you were an adult who paid board to the family household. My friends at university had also seen themselves as men and women going places, and were eager to take leadership roles in society. Looking back, I still recall the feeling of disempowerment that accompanied the metamorphosis from adult man of 24 to a patronised, token 'young person'.
Australians between eighteen and 25 forfeited citizenship for 'youth rights' and forfeited the sort of real power past generations had enjoyed in times of full employment. Youth is a dubious basis from which to argue for rights, as it conjures associations less-than-adult, such as 'dependency', 'inexperience', 'apprenticeship' - people not quite up to making a proper contribution to society.
It seems that for politicians, 'youth' sets in motion a chain of conservative values that underpin policy prescriptions: young people are vulnerable and belong at home with the family; they are the responsibility of their parents; they are unskilled; they should be supported financially by their parents;
they have fewer commitments, lower living costs and require less income; their parents subsidise them anyway; if young people have higher unemployment it is because they have few skills, poor attitudes and expect too much; youth wages should be lowered to make them more competitive; young people should earn their dole; anyway, kids should be in school or tech and not making a nuisance of themselves in public places.
The income support policies of Labor and Coalition governments share the assumption that young people up to the age of 25 are the responsibility of parents and have lower living costs. The Hawke Government's 'reform of income support', with its age-based tiers, and family means tests (tightened and zealously policed since the Coalition came to power), failed to grasp that unemployment is concentrated in the multi-disadvantaged families least able to support children over 16.
Universalising the experience of better-off youth subsidised by parents, governments incorrectly assume that parents of the unemployed are able and willing to support them. But research shows that many parents of early school leavers not only cannot support them, but regard children over 16 as independent adults who should pay board. Since 1982 the number of 15-24-year-olds dependent on their parents has increased by 12 per cent, reaching 58 per cent in 1996.
The result is increasing family tension The push to dependency flies in the face of reality. Out in the suburbs, over-18s confront the burdens and responsibilities of adult citizenship: paying tax and rents, buying clothes and food at the same price as everyone else. Less than a fifth are students. Some are in unions or are eligible to join. If they commit a crime they go to adult prison. They can join the army and serve overseas. Over-18s can vote. Many young people are married, in de facto relationships and are parents of young children themselves . Many are struggling to buy a home. But you seldom hear about these young adults and their concerns from the professional, tertiary-educated 'youths' anointed by governments, arts bureaucrats and the media.
By defining this age group as less than adult we weaken their access to citizens' rights, such as the right to a living income when working or when searching for work. The ideology of youth legitimates a drive by both Coalition and Labor governments to prolong far into adulthood the juvenile period of dependency and quasi-citizenship. The economically redundant are warehoused well into their mid-twenties within education and training programs, often at their parents' expense. Welfare is privatised within the family.
Policy without class
The issue of class was missing from Labor's youth policy, the ghost at the IYY banquet. Working in the youth sector alongside government officials in the mid '80s I was astonished that the term 'class' was never used, indeed never occurred to technocrats, who spoke about the 'disadvantaged', a condescending code for non-middle-class people who needed correction.
This omission is surprising given that some of the Labor ministers erecting this mandarin-slice view of society were socialists. It came about due to the collusion between Hawke's right-wing consensus view of Australian society and the broad left's naive internationalisation of '60s generational rhetoric. Yet the best minds of the intellectual new left, including sociologist Bob Connell, educationalist John Freeland and political economist Frank Stilwell, had produced ample evidence of the persistence of class division in Australia
The fuzzy idea of 'disadvantage' that was built into some programs identified indicators that impede 'middle-class' expectations, such as coming from a non-English speaking background or being 'rural and isolated', but never came to terms with the unravelling of the working-class way of life. 'Youth unemployment' is a misnomer, obscuring the reality that it is unskilled and semi-skilled jobs traditionally undertaken by early school leavers that have disappeared.
Those who are culturally predisposed and who can afford to remain in education until their early twenties are unaffected by the retraction in working-class jobs, taking the lion's share of part-time and casual work in the service sector while studying and moving into new areas of the expanding information economy after graduating. What we now have is working-class and rural unemployment that lasts well into adulthood and often into the next generation.
This class blindness marred Labor's ambitions for a 'clever country' with increased participation in higher education. Between 1981 and 1987, Year 12 retention rates rose from 34.8 to 53.1 per cent - still low by OECD standards but a revolution for Australia. Persuaded that education, rather than the labour market, was the place for older teenagers, the Hawke Government restricted access to unemployment benefit for 16-18-year-olds, in comparison to a more generous Austudy. However, teenagers from Labor's heartland continued to leave education early and endure unemployment on less money. The stick-and-carrot policy ignores the studies showing the difficulties working-class kids have with the competitive academic curriculum of the senior years of high school.
If things have been awful for the young unemployed, what of the young people who swelled John Dawkins' expanding universities in the 1980s and '90s? Students who matriculated into universities got saddled with fees, then graduated to face loan repayments and an uncertain labour market.In Gangland, Mark Davis documents a network of old boys and girls from the '60s, rusted into positions of control in gatekeeper institutions they helped create, censoring new ideas while jealously excluding the best and brightest of the younger generations. The boomers' new motto - don't trust anyone under 30. In this sense the term 'youth' is used to keep competitors in the margins, to exclude and disempower competition, to hoard resources. That's why Lindsay Tanner and Mark Latham are called 'Young Turks'. Younger academics, artists, media workers and politicians complain with some justification of a cultural myopia, a nation entering the next century with its eyes keenly on the 1960s. Recently, however, Australia has witnessed a spontaneous creative outburst from much younger film-makers, comedians, musicians, web-page designers, publishers, journalists, politicians and agents provocateurs such as Jon Safran.
A breath of fresh air, these new cultural and political guerillas have little respect for their elders and are too busy creating their own public spaces to be concerned with traditional institutions like Aunty ABC or the Sydney Morning Herald. Davis is impressive in documenting the growth of a left-right conservative anti-youth rhetoric by middle-aged commentators pledged to defend civilisation. Just as in the 1960s, today's moral panics target both delinquents (usually working class or 'ethnic') and the 'ratbags' involved in fringe politics, alternative lifestyles and outrageous ideas. While rap music, 'homeboys' and Asian gangs threatened law and order on the street, greenies, postmodernists, deconstructers, cyber-pornographers and 'political correctness' white-ant our universities, schools and the Internet.
All parties and governments need to reconsider their censorious attitude to culture and their paternalistic attitude to young people. In the name of protecting youth, the Coalition seems hell-bent on returning to the censorship regime that operated during the Menzies years. We are seeing an alarming tightening of censorship of media culture under the Coalition Government, an offensive that targets young people as both innocents to shield and perpetrators to fear. But the Hawke and Keating governments, on the other hand, were far too fond of ham-fisted social engineering crudely applied by toady bureaucrats.
The problem with Labor's penchant for policing culture is that working-class people, the young, Aborigines and newly arrived migrants are less able or inclined to police their language or jettison long-held customs in favour of the latest version of middle-class manners. Cultural policing assumes that signs have fixed meanings shared by everyone, that can be measured and seen to have an effect, which is never the case in the real world where young people, especially, experiment with identities and negotiate their differences.
As a no-man's-land between childhood and adulthood, 'youth' is an easy target for law and order campaigns, employers bent on lower wages, and governments looking to cut spending. I advocate a new approach to young people based on citizens' rights.A social democratic government should acknowledge that all Australians 16 years and over share the same human rights as citizens, and cannot be discriminated against on the basis of age, especially with regard to wages and income support.
Australia should bite the bullet and lower the voting age to 16. The advocacy of youth rights is bad politics. Instead, argue for the rights of citizens or for universal human rights. Unfortunately, the federal opposition's populist capitulation to the Coalition's entrenchment of junior wage rates suggests Labor still believes adult rights begin at 21. It is essential to dismantle the barrier that divides the unemployed from workers and youth from adults. It is not helpful for the up-and-coming generations to be corralled in a youth ghetto, whether in training and welfare or TV programming and arts grants. Good communities are made up of people from all ages, helping and learning from each other. Mark Davis is right - Australia has a bad dose of cultural constipation, caused less by boomer intransigence than by the structural and ideological lockout of a generation.
The Howard Government blames the young unemployed for their fate, and pretends that lower youth wages and a bit of industrial discipline via the electorally popular work-for-the-dole scheme will actually remedy the situation. The Dusseldorp Skills Forum argues that neither market deregulation, lower youth wages and less protection from dismissal, nor training and skills acquisition has eased an unemployment level among young adults, which is stuck at around 10 per cent - with a further 8.7 per cent in neither the labour force nor education.
Future governments should treat this figure as a class problem. Economic growth has created jobs, but not too many for unqualified early school leavers.The big challenge for social democrats is to help young people from working-class backgrounds find work in the new expanding areas of the information and service economy.
School reform - the key
A cultural predisposition to manual work instilled in families over generations disadvantages these kids at school, and makes it difficult for boys in particular to find a place in the new working world of service and communication. The fundamental reform of public secondary schooling is a priority, so that education can truly be a bridge from the old society to the new for those least able to make the crossing. State governments embarked on a similar project at the beginning of the twentieth century to shepherd potential workers into the industrial age, and future governments should have the vision to erect an education system for the new age.
Unfortunately, our schools remain organised like factories in an age when there are few factories to go to, imposing industrial-age discipline on young adults who live in a post-industrial age, and a tertiary-orientated curriculum on kids who will not go to university. Hence the 'crisis in public schools' prevails, as working-class kids 'act out' against this babysitting, and middle-class parents desert the local comprehensive for private and boutique selective schools. Governments and employers harp on about schools teaching vocational skills, but specialised workskills will be obsolete in no time, narrowing an employee's options when what is needed is flexibility.
The key goal today should be cultural literacy, by which I mean the acquisition of creativity, knowledge, self-discipline and the skills necessary to prosper in a fluid work environment, develop individual potential, encourage lifelong learning and participate in a democracy. Teachers should be more valued and value-added, which means better educated, frequently re-educated, better paid and encouraged to move in and out of the profession to get a grip on the changing world outside the school.
The market has not delivered lifelong careers in the post-industrial economy that take a teenager from, say, burger-making at McDonald's to restaurant management. This is a problem that starts when people leave education but reverberates throughout a person's life. Government must intervene to create career paths between the mish-mash of temporary, part-time and casual jobs that dominate the lower rungs of the information and service sectors.
Labor's introduction of traineeships in fragmented industries was a good idea, poorly marketed, as opposed to Howard's careful use of the blue-collar-friendly term 'apprenticeships'. The Dusseldorp Skills Forum suggests public incentives for employers to convert casual jobs into traineeships. Any government-created employment opportunities must be enmeshed into the growing areas of the new economy. Offering public subsidy to employers to take on the young unemployed in real jobs in private businesses, the government sector and community organisations is preferable to the dead-end work-for-the dole scheme.
There is cause for optimism. The passing of the industrial era has caused great dislocation, but it is an opportunity for a true liberation of human potential as younger people respond to the increase in information, the loosening of Fordist discipline, the end of fixed lifelong roles and the sharding of mass culture. In the absence of steady careers, more and more young people are finding identity in what they do rather than in what they are paid to do.
What was so good about hierarchical, boring industrial jobs anyway? Why have social democrats become the nostalgic defenders of a postwar Keynesian settlement that the new left originally believed to be pretty dehumanising? Socialism was always a means to an end - an unleashing of our full humanity. In an information-saturated post-industrial economy where we produce value-added information rather than manufactured objects, cultural production will occur in small self-managed units which cater for a diversity of groups that make up the market, with a reduced emphasis on assembly lines, mass markets and vertical control by hierarchies of management. The times favour younger producers open to new ideas and flexible ways of working. The young have never been more skilled.
Evidence suggests a growth in creative recreation and hobbies among the young, a move from passive consumption to active cultural production. From web-page design to short films to comedy to TV, younger people are taking a leaf out of the old punk adage and doing it themselves. In cultural policy, social democrats need to move away from outmoded ideas that progressive culture lies with 'community' or 'avant-garde' practitioners, and engage with the creativity and vitality of popular culture. Today the immersion of young people in digital technology, the Internet, music and identity subcultures suggests a way forward for a postmodern assertion of identity beyond the market. Significantly, unwaged cultural practices that contribute to a community often lead to careers in the new economy.
Kids are building incomes and careers out of their cultural pursuits. Social democratic government should encourage, through community infrastructure, the actual creative, productive activities of the young. There is no going back. At the century's end Australia's middle-aged leaders are locked in a battle for competing nostalgias. Howard's Liberals yearn for a mythical white-bread, picket-fenced 1950s without today's noisy minorities, while too many on the left cling to 1960s radicalism and the Whitlam renaissance as the measure of all progress. But young Australians are creating the future regardless of government plans, and it behoves all parties to embrace their cultural reality. Social democrats need to move beyond generationalism left over from the 1960s, acknowledge the persistence of class, and embrace a politics based on diversity, difference, autonomy and identity.
Labor Essays are published by Pluto Press
The horse that gave Bart Cummings his eleventh win in the race that stops a nation, backs up in the Sandown Classic.
Formally known as the Sandown Cup and run as a handicap, the Victorian Amateur Turf Club changed the conditions to a weight for age event in the hope of attracting a much stronger field.
Although this year's weight for age crop is not up to the standard of years gone by, the race has Rogan Josh as a drawcard and it is very unusual to see a Melbourne Cup winner backing up in the race.
To be ridden once again by John Marshall, the former Perth galloper is chasing his third straight victory having been successful in the Mackinnon Stakes, three days prior to the Melbourne Cup.
Rogan Josh looked sensational winning the Mackinnon and will be heavily backed by punters in the Sandown race tomorrow.
His test could come from the David Hall trained Zerpour.
Zerpour followed his easy win in the Werribee Cup with an even easier victory in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Flemington last Saturday.
The horse, trainer and jockey Brett Prebble are on fire at the moment and don't be surprised if he pushes Rogan Josh right to the wire.
Boxing expert Bill Mordy was confident of a Lennox Lewis victory over Evander Holyfield in Sunday's World Championship Heavyweight Boxing title bout.
As did Mike Acri, a US boxing promoter who looks after Leila Ali, daughter of former heavyweight champion Mohammed Ali.
Both gentlemen told the Big Sports Breakfast this week that while it wasn't a fight to have a bet in, they would favour a Lewis victory.
Champion "Wallaby fullback" Matt Burke told the Big Sports Breakfast that he looking forward to a break after the Australian Rugby side's World Cup triumph.
And the man who kicked Australia to victory in many World Cup games over the past month says he is just as keen to prepare for the Super 12's matches for New South Wales.
Blues supporters are hoping for a big season and Burke is well aware the World Cup will no doubt strengthen the support of Rugby throughout the country.
The Northern Eagles have arrived.
The Manly-Norths joint venture finally decided on the new name at the inaugural board meeting on Thursday night.
New Chairman Geoff Bellew told the Big Sport Breakfast that the meeting decided unanimously to adopt the Northern Eagles name.
The colours have been sent to sporting company Nike and the new look jumper will be launched in the not too distant future.
Bellew described the jumper as predominately white with liberal splashing of red black and maroon. The shorts will be maroon.
Greg Radley co-presents the breakfast show Monday to Friday on 2KY
Over 250 calls have been received by the Unions 2000 Call Centre as well as over 100 applications and with an average wage of $20.00 per hour, free travel to and from work as well as free meals its no wonder to response has been so large.
Special agreements have been had been made with some of the major employers for the Olympics who will endeavour to job match the Unions 2000 applicants in a wide variety of positions from Catering to Security. The great rates of pay are due to the Sydney 2000 Olympic & ParaOlympic Games Award, which was negotiated by the Labor Council of NSW.
The applicants come from all over the Sydney Region and have a wide variety of skills. Some of the initial applicants were skeptical about the scheme with one caller asking if the positions would be allocated in the same manner as the Olympic Tickets! The Unions 2000 staff assured the applicant the that all positions would be allocated on skill and indiscriminately unlike to tickets fiasco!
Regional Launches of Unions 2000 were held this week in Wollongong and Newcastle and the response from these areas has been overwhelming. In Wollongong TAFEs, High Schools, Job Network Members, the Council and the Unions have fully thrown their support behind Unions 2000.
People who apply for positions through Unions 2000 will receive industrial protection for the duration of their employment for only $6.00 per week. This provides a tremendous opportunity for unions to show to people who may not have previously been members of a union a positive imagine of unionism therefore making it more likely that they will join unions in later jobs. During the games up to 26 Organisers from the LHMU, AWU, SDA, MEAA and the Labor Council will be present to deal with any complaints from Unions 2000 workers and to make sure that all employers are complying with the award.
It's such a novel concept, it has an almost mystical quality. You want to correct yourself and say, this can't be right but there it is in black and white. Piers Akerman launching a scathing attack on the Howard Government. One more time for those who missed it. Piers bagged Howard.
What's going on? A divine conversion from pride and prejudice to sense and sensibility? A sudden revelation into the Dark Heart of the conservative regime? A backlash against the cynical manipulation of the Republic referendum?
Nothing so principled. Piers was just weighing in to what is emerging as one of the more interesting media battles of recent years.
At the centre of it is Piers' boss Rupert Murdoch and his determination to get access to the new digital technology, otherwise known as Web-TV.
Web-TV is poised to revolutionise television as we know it; users will be able to click and choice [choose] what they want, when they want it. The notion of television programming will change fundamentally.
Media operators know this and are desperate for a piece of the action. In one camp are the established TV networks, who argue access to the new technology should be limited to existing broadcasters - at least for a lengthy transition period. In the other are aspirant players like Murdoch's News Ltd, who fear that they could be left behind with PayTV interest that could be soon left irrelevant.
Howard has been left with the unsavoury choice of choosing between the interests of Packer and Murdoch. At this stage, they're going with Packer, which has seen the Murdoch clan take on a decidedly hostile stance against the Government.
You might have noticed Rupert and Lachlan both sticking their Doc Martens into the Republic debate. It got deliciously personal at times.
Now it's Piers' turn, ripping into a report commissioned by the commercial stations by Liberal pin-up boy Mark Textor. He's the guy who adapted US-style wedge politics for the 1996 election and advised Peter Reith on how to manipulate public opinion against the wharfies before he launched his assault on the MUA.
Pity the same scrutiny wasn't given to his earlier work; because if Piers' extracts are anything to go by, the research is just as facile. According to Piers, the researchers conclude that datacaster, as opposed to current broadcasting is "not conducive to togetherness".
This provides the pitch to what is possible Piers' best line of the year: "So for the most part is masturbation, which is what this sort of research most closely resembles".
The point of all this is not to agree with Piers (heavens forbid!), but to highlight how even the Prime Ministers' man can be transformed into his harshest critic when his bosses interests are effected. It's hard to argue with Piers' arguments on this one, it's just that his motivations are so damn transparent.
It should be interesting to chart the invective as the debate hots up: mogul against mogul, with a reactionary leader in the centre, not sure who to react to.
© 1999-2000 Labor Council of NSW
LaborNET is a resource for the labour movement provided by the Labor Council of NSWURL: http://workers.labor.net.au/39/print_index.html
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005